Day 140: mile 2159.9 to mile 2185.7

9.2.18. 25.8 miles.

I woke up naturally at 5:30 this morning, though tried to make myself sleep a little more, until starting to get ready at 5:50. I was hiking by 6:30, and the sun was rising through the trees. It was a little chilly this morning, so I put on the new layer I sent to myself at Cascade Locks: a thermal weight hooded Patagonia base layer with a quarter zip. I figured this would be good for moving warmth and to sleep in if it was really cold. It did well, though I was hiking uphill soon enough and I needed to take it off bc I was also in the sun.

 Mt. Saint Helens & Rainier!

Mt. Saint Helens & Rainier!

 Mt. Adams

Mt. Adams

I had an amazing view pretty early on of Mt. Saint Helens, Mt. Adams, AND Mt. Rainier. I couldn’t believe I could see Rainier, and I teared up seeing that mountain. To explain how much I love that mountain is a long story, but I’ve basically been infatuated with it ever since moving to Seattle for college. UW has a walkway called “Rainier Vista” which is a beautiful tree-lined pathway with a large fountain at the bottom. Some of the most beautiful buildings on campus flank this path, and the most grand sight of all: Mt. Rainier looms large over the scene. I always knew it would be a good day if I could see the mountain. Every time I saw it, I would get a flutter of excitement and happiness in my chest. The view simply never got old, even though I looked at it almost every day for 4 years. So, seeing Rainier this morning got me quite emotional. I really felt like I was in Washington.

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After a little bit of uphill, there was a long descent. I passed by Excel, DHS, Jinx, and Twinkle Toes in their tents still, and continued down the hill. Next, was a steep climb up. Washington has not been warmly welcoming. It is very different than Oregon. We’re back to long, steep ascents and descents. There was a stream in the middle of the climb, where I stopped to fill up water and eat a snack. Once at the top of the climb, I ate lunch on a dirt road where I had service. After lunch, I went right back down. These miles seemed to take forever. I’m usually pretty sluggish after lunch, and you know it’s bad if downhill and flat miles seem to take forever. However, I did cover good ground, it just didn’t feel like it. I stopped at a river to filter a little water and I soaked my feet, scrubbed the dirt off my ankles, and rinsed a pair of socks. It was only 2.5 miles until the next water source, but I was out of water, and I figured I’d fill up for dinner at the next river, since there was a huge climb after the last source.

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Before the next river, I stopped at a forest service campground to use the pit toilet and throw away some trash, before going along to the river and filtering more water. I ran into the crew there, and also Sprinkles and her partner, Burps. I haven’t seen them since around the Shasta area! It was nice to run into them and catch up. Burps wasn’t feeling too well. I hope he gets better soon! After filling up on water, where a ton of people happened to be, and late in the day, it was kind of a race to the campsites along the climb. You always know when there’s people congregated at a water source towards the end of the day, you’re going to by vying for spots with these people. I was the last to leave the water, and after a steep 1,600 ft ascent in 3.5 miles, I was the last to arrive at the first tent site. Luckily, I was able to squeeze my tent in a spot next to the dirt road. Patches and her dad were also at this site! It was nice to talk to them again. I got to camp around 7:30, and I realized that’s just too late now that I’m cooking dinners again. It gets dark so fast now, and I’d like to be done with dinner when it’s still light out.

Day 139: Cascade Locks to mile 2159.9

9.1.18. 13.1 miles.

I woke up early this morning, probably bc I went to bed so much earlier than my other days in town. I was still exhausted though, and tried to go back to sleep. Eventually I got up and went to breakfast at Bridgeside for the last time. After that, I went back to the hotel to finish packing, and to patch up the hole in my tent mesh that I failed to do my other days in town. I turned the tv on and discovered a Harry Potter marathon was happening, so I happily watched that while sewing up the hole. I was sad that I needed to hike out today instead of enjoying the HP marathon and laying in bed. I had until 12 to check out and took every minute of that time.

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At 12, I messaged a young woman who follows me on Instagram. She lives in Portland and wanted to come out and meet me, as she wants to hike the PCT. I told her she was welcome to meet me in Cascade Locks and hike into Washington with me! So she met up with me, and quickly drove me to the grocery store as my waterbottle had grown mold, something I just noticed this morning right before checking out. We parked again and then walked up to the Bridge of the Gods, and I walked into Washington!

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Marissa was so sweet and so game to hike a little with me, even though the walk across the bridge with tons of cars was a little unnerving. Marissa took my picture with the bridge, and then we continued to the trail. We hiked about 3 miles together, and she was able to ask me many questions about the hike and my motivations and about hiking solo and fears involved there. She was awesome, and I can’t wait until she hikes the trail herself! Social media can bring people together!

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As I was saying goodbye to Marissa, DHS, Excel, Twinkle Toes, and Jinx showed up and we all talked, and then a bee randomly stung me on my inner thigh and it hurt so much, and still does as I’m writing this in my tent tonight. I was laughing a little bc I know Butters was also stung right as she entered Washington, as well as another hiker who I follow on insta. Excel showed me her now bruised thigh where a bee stung her as well. I just couldn’t believe I had also gotten stung upon entering WA, where there were hardly any bees, when I had managed to escape NorCal, which was swarming with them. Oh well.

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After saying goodbye to Marissa, the real uphill started, and it was pretty brutal. It was pretty steep in places and unrelenting. I stopped for a break at the last water source for 12 miles and filtered enough water for hiking and cooking. I got my stove back for Washington, so needed to take cooking water into account again!

 Mt. Adams

Mt. Adams

 Mt. Hood

Mt. Hood

Finally, after many hours, I stopped climbing and descended a bit to the place I’m camped tonight. I’m happy I made it this far during that climb. It was definitely not fun with a fully loaded pack and lots of water. I can already feel that my hips and chest/ shoulders are more tender than usual. 

Day 138: Cascade Locks/ Hood River Zero

8.31.18. 0 miles.

I woke up relatively early for how late I went to bed last night, and went over to Bridgeside to eat breakfast. After that, I went back to my room and started putting my resupply boxes together. I was getting through them fine until I realized I had bought too much food. I had forgot that I wasn’t going to send something to Stevens Pass bc they only do UPS/ Fedex delivery and those stores did not exist in Cascade Locks. So, on another whim, I decided that the extra food was too valuable to not send it along, and decided to go to Hood River to send a box via UPS. While I was there, I figured I’d buy some more food to make the box to Stevens worth it, so I went to the store, then UPS to send my box. I had to take the same shuttle to Hood River as I did Portland, but Hood River was closer. The town was very charming, and they had a nice $1 shuttle bus that made it easy for me to get around. I only had time to go to the store and UPS, then I was back in the shuttle to Cascade Locks. Before going back to my hotel, I grabbed a burger, fries, and the largest soft serve cone in the world.

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I was thoroughly tired from my busy two days when I got back, that I just crawled into bed in my room, and watched tv and relaxed. Eventually, I ventured over next door to grab dinner to bring back to my room, and I ran into Easy Company, Queso, Reverse Pigeon, and Kool Aid. I chatted with them for a bit, but I was so foggy and tired I really couldn’t hold a conversation for long, and bid them good night (it was 5 pm) and walked back to my room. I ate a little while later while watching Impractical Jokers, called my mom & Allison, and fell asleep.

Day 137: Cascade Locks/ Portland Zero

8.30.18. 0 miles.

I slept in this morning, laying in bed until 8. The hotel had breakfast vouchers for the diner next door, Bridgeside, so I meandered over there to eat. After breakfast, I went back to my room and started organizing and counting my food from care packages and my partial resupply box. After that, I went over to the local grocery store to buy my resupply for all of Washington. I was pretty disappointed, however, about the lack of options. I knew I couldn’t resupply fully out of this store. There were things I really wanted that they didn’t have. Frustrated, I left the store with a partial resupply, went to the Post Office to grab boxes & check if my package from Katy showed up, and with some more digging, they found the package.

I went back to the hotel and looked at my still long list of groceries I needed, and had an idea. Why not go to Portland to finish grocery shopping, and also eat some of my favorite foods? I looked at the shuttle online and found out there was one leaving really soon, so I grabbed my things and my empty backpack and ran to the bus stop. It only took about 1 hour to get there by the shuttle, and soon I was in Portland! While on the shuttle, I discovered amazing news: the Northern Terminus had reopened! My spirits were lifted so much. I had been dreading trying to make a decision about what to do about the closure. Now I know I still get to walk to Canada on the PCT! The shuttle dropped me off on the east side, so I needed to hop on the light rail system to get downtown. I immediately went to Blue Star Donuts to grab a few donuts, Whole Foods to get some goodies, and then went to Safeway to finish my shopping. I stopped by REI to get some Nuun tabs and replace a couple tent stakes, then took an Uber to Salt & Straw to get ice cream! Yum. I realized however, when I was trying to plan my trip back that there were no more shuttles to Cascade Locks for the day. Crap. I had read the schedule all wrong. Immediately, I texted Patches bc I knew her and her dad had a rental car and were going into Portland to shop. Thankfully, she responded and said I could of course get a ride with them back to Cascade Locks in the evening. Thank goodness too, since I would have been screwed if they couldn’t. Feeling better about my situation, I went and got some Thai food, then walked back downtown, got a PSL from Starbucks, then stopped by Grassa, a great Italian place to grab a pasta to eat later for dinner.

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Still needing to kill time before meeting up with Patches, I walked over to Patagonia and browsed, while an aspiring PCT thru-hiker noticed my hiker vibes and asked if I was hiking the trail, and we talked for a while about the trail. I then ventured over to the Montbell store, wanting to try on a few items, and ended up buying some lighter weight liner gloves, waterproof mitts, and a balaclava to replace my beanie that never could stay on my head well. After the shopping, I took an Uber across the river to where I was meeting up with Patches and Macro, at a pub where Macro was meeting a friend from when he lived in Portland. His friend was sooo nice and welcoming of us. After chatting for a while and everyone else eating their dinner, we finally left, and I drove back to Cascade Locks with Patches and her dad, thanking them eternally for saving my butt out here. When I got back to my room, I totally crashed, but not before eating my pasta and a couple of the donuts I bought.

Day 136: mile 2130.3 to Cascade Locks

8.29.18. 16.5 miles.

I didn’t set an alarm again this morning, just planning on waking up whenever. I did hear stirring, which I found out when I woke up was Macro and Patches moving about. I got ready pretty quickly and was soon hiking.

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Unfortunately I took a bit of a detour, accidentally hiking uphill on a side trail instead of the PCT. I went to the bathroom and then backtracked to the PCT.

There was a decent amount of incline in the morning, mostly through a nice grassy forest. The undulating up & down lasted for about half of the miles for the day, and then the long descent to Cascade Locks began. I stopped pretty quickly into the downhill to grab some water from a spring since I still had a decent amount of miles to walk to town. A really loud, annoying group of boys that were blaring their music over a wireless speaker came up behind me and also sat down to filter water. At least they turned the music off when they saw me. I don’t really understand why people blast their music out here. I don’t care if you listen to music, but put headphones in. Blasting music out loud is against Leave No Trace ethics, something many PCT hikers could use a course in before beginning the trail, but I digress.

I finished filtering and took off downhill. It was about 8 miles to town. I walked through a lot of burned area, from the fires that devastated the Gorge last year. There was some regrowth in some areas, but it was mostly just dead trees and dirt. The further down the trail I got though, the less fire impacts were seen. The trail was very, very rocky and steep in many portions, making this descent not very fun, and it took longer than normal to keep my footing secure.

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I reached a footbridge with 2 miles to go until town and saw Macro and Patches sitting by the water. They too were exhausted. We complained a little about how the descent was so mentally & physically taxing. I was so tired and hungry, but I just wanted to get to town so I walked on. Those last 2 miles were again undulating trail with random steep uphill sections, and they seemed to go on forever, until I finally reached a gravel road and followed the signs to the Bridge of the Gods. I stayed on the Oregon side of the bridge, and stared in awe of it. I couldn’t believe I was finally here! I had walked the length of 2 states, and I couldn’t believe I was looking at Washington across the river, at last.

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After admiring my accomplishment, I walked down under the bridge to town, which is practically on the PCT. I went straight to a diner that had loaded hot dogs and milkshakes and ate some lunch. After sitting there for a while eating and on my phone, I decided to call the hotel I was going to stay at and see if I could add an extra night to my stay. I originally planned on camping this first night, but when I got to town I just really wanted to relax. Thankfully, they had an opening, so once I got off the phone with them, I went to the post office, right next door to the diner, and got my packages. I had a package from myself that I had shipped from Ashland, and care packages from my mom, Pammy & her mom, and Katy. The PO couldn’t find Katy’s package, so I left and texted Katy trying to get some more info about when/ how it was sent.

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After that, I went to the hotel and checked in, went up to my room, and collapsed on the sofa. I opened my boxes, called my mom, pulled all my clothes out, took a shower, and did my laundry. This all seemed to take forever though, as I was really just wanting to relax. I had texted Patches about getting dinner later, but we both fell through on that, both of us being full from lunch still and us doing chores, and she reuniting with her dad who came to join her for Washington.

I eventually fell asleep after finishing my laundry and watching an episode of Bachelor in Paradise.

Day 135: mile 2106.8 to mile 2130.3

8.28.18. 23.5 miles.

Today ended up being a pretty chill day, and I hiked a surprisingly small amount of miles for having a full day on trail. My alarm went off at 5:30, but I went back to sleep and started getting ready around 6, and was hiking by 6:45. I camped near a junction last night that is an alternate to the popular Ramona Falls, a waterfall I’ve been wanting to see for a long time! The alternate and waterfall were beautiful, and I’m happy I did it.

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Next it was a super steep climb up the mountain, the last steep climb in Oregon! Not that there were too many. The sun was streaming through the trees in a really pretty way. The trees really have been spectacular. They’re so massive and old, and the forest just smells SO good and the air is SO fresh. After the climb there was downhill, but a lot of rollercoaster up & down. I finally got some great views of Mt. Hood since it was a clear day. There was more up/ down, but mostly up to my lunch spot for the day, 14.5 miles in. I laid out all of my gear since there was some sun: tent, quilt, and pad to dry out and everything did! Patches, a hiker I’ve met so many times, ate lunch with me and she was so nice! We have lots in common and it was nice to have a good convo with someone on trail.

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As happens most of the time in the afternoon, I was suddenly beat, and hiking seemed hard, even though I ate a ton of food at lunch to lower my pack weight, and was only carrying a liter of water. I was thriving on the sugar of skittles towards the end. I originally wanted to go a little further, but when I got to the Wahtum Lake campsite, Patches, Macro, and Party Hal were there so I thought it would be nice to finish early and hang out with them instead of forcing myself to hike more and camp alone. I’m trying to socialize with other hikers more. Sometimes since I’ve been solo, I get into a really solo groove and do everything alone, but sometimes it’s nice to hang out at camp and chill and talk with other hikers.

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I honestly can’t believe I’m getting to Cascade Locks tomorrow and will finish Oregon. So crazy!

Day 134: Timberline Lodge to mile 2106.8

8.27.18. 9.9 miles.

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Last night was very stormy indeed. I woke up multiple times to gusty wind and would lie and listen to the rain splattering on my tent. Good thing I got to sleep in, at least, and not have to pack up my sopping wet tent in the dark. I debated for a bit about what to do in the morning. It wasn’t raining anymore, and the sun was starting to come out, but my tent was under dripping wet trees. I figured it wouldn’t get the chance to dry as long as it was under the trees, so I completely packed up, put all of my “need to stay dry” things into the pack liner, and everything else on top of that, and shoved my wet and dirty tent in the outside pocket.

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I was finally ready for the wonderful buffet breakfast! I walked back down to the lodge and sat in the dining room for 2.5 hours eating. Everything was delicious. The biscuits & gravy were so good, and there were homemade sausage patties that were just amazing. I got full almost instantly, and was never really hungry for the rest of the day, though I forced myself to eat my hiking food so I wouldn’t have extra weight to carry.

 just a small amount of my breakfast

just a small amount of my breakfast

After eating, I sat down in the lobby area near another hiking couple: Whoppie and Spellcheck. I hadn’t met them before, but they were really nice and we talked for a while. They got a room at the lodge for tonight so they were just lounging around. They watched my stuff for me while I went to the gift shop across the parking lot to pick up my resupply box. When I finished with that, I organized my food and pulled some things out of my pack to sort of air out/ dry. I was kind of hidden in a corner, so I didn’t look too disgusting doing this to the average hotel guest.

 The clearing clouds

The clearing clouds

I used the internet and called my parents, and was having just a really hard time getting up and going. It was warm inside and I didn’t really want to go back out to the chilly outside. The sun was peeking through, but it was still cold.

 Mt. Hood hiding

Mt. Hood hiding

Finally, I got hiking at 4, and hiked the majority of the afternoon with a hiker I’ve been leapfrogging with a lot since Big Lake: Party Hal. He’s pretty nice. We were both headed to the same camp area, near the alternate to Ramona Falls. The hike was mostly downhill in the trees, though there were supposed to be nice views of Mt. Hood occasionally, but the mountain was fogged in. There were some nice views of the green hills in the distance. I got to camp around 7:30 and set all my things up. My tent is still wet, but hopefully it will dry out a little tonight, and hopefully there will be some sun at lunch tomorrow so I can really lay all of my stuff out to dry. There is a large group of weekenders here, and it’s 9 pm and they haven’t shut up yet. Hopefully they go to bed soon. There’s also someone smoking nearby, probably those same people, which is not what I want to smell while going to sleep. Ugh.

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Day 133: mile 2069.4 to Timberline Lodge

8.26.18. 27.5 miles.

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I woke up this morning to a very wet tent. I don’t know if it rained overnight, but it was at least really drizzly. Again, I had to shake off my tent and just kind of fold it up instead of really putting it away.

 I feel so important!

I feel so important!

It was cold this morning, but not as bad as yesterday. I hiked with my rain jacket all day long, but didn’t need my rain pants for the first part of the day. It was nice, easy hiking in the morning, through lots of trees and included a side trip to Little Crater Lake, a spring-fed lake that is super clear and very blue. It was very cloudy this morning so it was hard to really see the color though. There was also tons of horse poop on trail, which really bothered me today. I felt like I was dodging it most of the time.

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I reached a highway where there was a picnic table at the trailhead, and decided to eat lunch there. Here I needed to put my rain pants on to stay warm since I wasn’t moving anymore. Bjorn, a hiker I’d been leapfrogging with, joined me and we ate and talked.

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I only had 10 miles to Timberline Lodge, less than usual for the afternoon. The first 5 miles were a gradual hike up then down to another highway, and after this, the trail was just completely uphill and got steeper. I could tell it was lightly raining, but it wasn’t so bad while I was still under treeline. Once I broke treeline, however, the fog was so heavy, I could barely see in front of me, and the wind was whipping like crazy, blowing rain everywhere, especially onto my glasses, making it even more difficult to see. I finally got to the camping area after a long slog through wet sand to the top of the climb. It was more sheltered up there, but still really windy and rainy.

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I quickly set up my already wet tent, threw some dry things inside my tent, then went down to the Lodge, which I couldn’t see bc of the fog, to warm up. I met some hikers inside and ended up eating pizza with Bjorn as we lamented going back out into the storm to sleep. We eventually left the lodge, and I guided some other hikers who hadn’t set their tent up yet to the camping area. I immediately hopped into my tent, happy I wasn’t soaking wet anymore, and set up my sleeping pad and quilt, changed into my baselayers, and snuggled up. I can tell it’s going to be a long night.

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​Day 132: mile 2040.2 to mile 2069.4

8.25.18. 29.2 miles.

It was so cold when I woke up this morning, I really didn’t want to get out of my quilt! I didn’t realize how cold it was until I accidentally touched the top of my tent and felt ice on the inside, and once I’d finally packed up, I discovered that the whole of my tent was covered in frost. It definitely feels like fall is moving in. Cold mornings, evenings, and nights, cooler and shorter days.

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I had a quick 5 miles to Ollalie Lake, where I didn’t really need to stop, but since it was cold, kind of wanted a coffee, so I stopped in for about a half hour. The lake is in the national forest and the store there is very bare bones, cash only, no electricity. It’s a fishing lake with a beautiful view of Mt. Jefferson.

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After Ollalie, there weren’t really any views the rest of the day. I had a moderate climb right after the lake, and I saw a coyote cross the trail near the top, and then I descended down a bit to where I took lunch near a spring. I tried to dry out all of my things, especially my tent, and had decent success, though it was covered in dirt that stuck to it from the dampness. I felt a few rain drops and quickly put my quilt back in my pack, but they didn’t last. Even so, I finished eating and packed up my things. It was cold sitting still, so I swapped my puffy for rain jacket as I got hiking again. It took me quite a while to warm back up, even though I was going uphill. I didn’t take it off until the clouds cleared and there was sunshine to warm me up. I stopped for a bathroom break near the top of the climb, and much later realized that I regrettably left my pee rag near where I went. I’m sorry for littering!! I didn’t realize I had lost it until about 5 miles later.

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After the climb, I descended until a river where I needed to get water for dinner and the night, then had another climb, this one much steeper than the other 2 of the day, but shorter. Once I reached the top, I just had a little bit left until camp. It was getting cold again, and there was no sunshine, just clouds.

I’m looking forward to tomorrow a lot! Should be pretty, and I can’t wait to see Little Crater Lake and get to Timberline Lodge at the end of the day!

Day 131: mile 2014.8 to mile 2040.2

8.24.18. 25.4 miles.

Brrr. It was very cold this morning. I woke up around 1 am and realized that the mesh on my tent door was damp and I could hear water splattering on my tent. I closed the one door that was open to fully close my tent, shoved my clothes into the foot box, and turned off my alarm. I knew I wasn’t going to want to get ready until the sun came up with this weather. I woke up naturally at 5:45 and started getting ready. It was still very cold, and there was so much fog. I realized after a while that I don’t think it actually rained, because the trail wasn’t very wet, but I was just in a very large cloud.

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I started hiking just before 7. The trail rollercoastered around through some burn area, some beautiful trees, and up onto the ridge line where I finally got out of the clouds and saw them clearing. And those wet clouds brought the smoke away too! I haven’t seen such a clear blue sky in so long. Even though I was freezing, the morning was absolutely gorgeous. The clearing clouds, the blue sky, the smell of wet trees. Amazing. And I hadn’t even seen the views of Mt. Jefferson yet.

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When I did, I could believe my eyes. The mountain was just so beautiful! I haven’t seen a volcano so clearly yet on this hike bc of all the smoke. Everything was just perfect. I took a lot of time staring at the mountain, taking pictures, and watching the clouds roll under and over it. I was relieved to find out that even as I kept hiking, I kept getting different angles of the mountain. So I kept stopping for more pictures and admiring time. I also ran into a ranger an she checked my permit. My first time having it checked! She was really nice and we chatted for a while before I moved along, too cold to stay still for long. I’d been wearing my rain jacket and pants all morning, and didn’t take them off until the bottom of a long descent down to a beautifully clear creek.

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Next was the big ascent for the day, and possibly the most prolonged/ steep climb in all of Oregon? Half of it was through a burn area, where I took my lunch much later than usual next to a creek, and the rest was a beautiful climb through Jefferson Park, where Mt. Jefferson looked so different, looking at the north side of the mountain.

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Once at the top of the climb, I had my first views of Mt. Hood in the distance, rising above the clouds. I had a long descent down the climb, and eventually made it to camp around 7:30. It was a cool evening too, and I needed to put my rain jacket back on a few miles out from the campsite bc I was pretty chilled. I’m happy I sent a warmer moving layer to cascade locks. I think I’ll need it for Washington.

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​Day 130: Big Lake Youth Camp to mile 2014.8

8.23.18. 19.7 miles.

I didn’t go to bed until well after dark last night. It was cool bc I finally got to see some stars. Not so many though bc the moon is almost full. The smoke really blew in overnight though. I could barely make out the trees across the lake. I slept in again, as there was no rush to hurry up since breakfast wasn’t served until 8. I slowly got ready and went back up to the hiker building, charged my things that I used, braided my hair, got some free coffee, and waited until we could get breakfast. Which ended up being more around 9. This camp is all vegetarian, so I had biscuits & gravy, fake bacon, fresh pineapple, Frosted Flakes, and toast. The fake eggs didn’t look appetizing at all. I really am not a fan of any type of buffet-style eggs. I hate looking at them in the warming dish.

 Only 650 miles left! 

Only 650 miles left! 

 Three-Fingered Jack (I believe) in the smoke

Three-Fingered Jack (I believe) in the smoke

 view of wasco lake

view of wasco lake

After eating breakfast, I re-organized my pack, and was finally off around 10:30. The hiking was super slow going at first, even though the terrain was pretty flat. I took a break at the 2,000 mile marker (!!) bc I was tired. When I reached the Santiam Pass trailhead only a mile later, I took another mini bathroom break. Then the first climb started. About 1,800 feet over 7 miles, so it was gradual, but felt never-ending. At the bottom of the descent after the climb, I filled up in water at a pond in a burn area, and started cold soaking my dinner. It was already 4 pm, and I knew that I was running out of steam. I set my sights on camping at Rockpile Lake, at the top of the next climb, instead of pushing any further. That turned out to be a good decision bc I was getting hungry by the time I got there, and I was getting cold too! The wind had picked up, which seems to be a theme recently. The lake and camp area is really nice. I got some water, washed my feet and legs, set up my tent and hopped in for the night.

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I was feeling less than motivated today, but I think we’re mostly out of the burn areas now, and the next few days should be really beautiful.

​Day 129: mile 1984.2 to Big Lake Youth Camp

8.22.18. 10.9 miles.

I had such a good night of sleep last night. Nice change from the night before. No wind, and the ground was so soft, which does make a difference I think, even with an inflatable pad. I woke up naturally to the urge to go to the bathroom and was able to quickly dig a super great cat hole since the ground was so sandy. Ghost and Ice-T, the hikers I’d been leapfrogging all yesterday, were also moving around in their tents. It was nice to sleep in and take my time getting ready with the dawn light instead of with a headlamp.

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The first few miles of the day were pretty much exclusively lava rock. It was kind of terrible, but at least it wasn’t hot, and it was slightly uphill, which is much better than hiking in loose rock downhill for sure. The views of Mt. Washington were also pretty cool, even through the smoke. After the lava fields, I was briefly in a nice forest before that turned into a burned forest with more lava rock/ loose rock, going downhill this time. There was another gradual uphill which was quite nice in alpine meadow/ forest, and then downhill all the way to Big Lake Youth Camp, which was 0.8 miles off trail.

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BLYC is a Seventh-day Adventist Church/ Family Camp, and they are amazingly hiker friendly. With donations, they recently built a whole building just for PCT hikers. It has 2 full bathrooms, washer/dryer, and a kitchenette with free coffee, WiFi, tons of chairs and power outlets, and a package holding area. And they serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s pretty amazing. And everything is donation-based, even the meals. It’s always so crazy going to places like this. I can’t believe these people like us so much.

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When I got there, I immediately put my name on the shower & laundry list, sorted my resupply, and then socialized with hikers until it was my turn to take a shower. There were tons of hikers here, NOBO and SOBO, and section hikers. It’s always funny seeing so many people at these places but the trail generally seems so much emptier. I went to lunch while I waited for my turn to do laundry. They served vegetarian chili with corn bread and it was very yummy. It felt good to eat real food: veggies and legumes. After lunch, I plugged my electronics in, and finally got my laundry going. While that was going, I did some internet things, and then socialized with hikers outside, watching the new family camp arrive. Many of the families were very interested in us and our journeys.

 they’re squishing me bc I’m “Squishy”

they’re squishing me bc I’m “Squishy”

After I got my regular clothes back on, I ran down to the store, got a coconut iced coffee (YUM), a soda, and an ice cream bar, and went back to the outside hiker hangout area and socialized some more. I then called the fam, and while I was on the phone, Excel and her Trail fam showed up! I was surprised, since I didn’t think I’d see them since they were going into Bend! I didn’t think they would stop here, but I guess they wanted to go into town via Santiam Pass, the second highway option to Bend, which is just a few miles after the camp, and some of them had run out of food, so they pushed to get here for dinner. It was so nice reuniting and briefly catching up with DHS, Jinx, and Twinkle Toes. They are all so lovely. Dinner was ready right after they arrived, and we had an amazing selection of pasta: Alfredo, pesto, and marinara choices, bread, broccoli, and a salad bar. I ate some more veggies and LOTS of pasta. It was delicious! After dinner we hung out for a bit, until I went to the coves nearby the camp to set up my tent with some other hikers. It was nice being right on the lake, and I had phone service! So I caught up on Bachelor in Paradise from the comforts of my tent and quilt.

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Day 128: mile 1957.2 to mile 1984.2

8.21.18. 27 miles.

Today did not start out that great. It ended up being incredibly windy last night, and before I woke up, my tent actually collapsed since I didn’t really stake it out & reinforce it the best for wind. So at 5:00, when a huge gust toppled it, I decided to just get ready. I was ready in 25 min, breaking my record.

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It stayed windy pretty much all day, but was the worst in the morning, mostly bc it was cold as well. I didn’t know what to expect today, but WOW was the scenery amazing! My first views in the morning were of South Sister. There was a lot of smoke in the sky, but also amazing lenticular clouds draping over the top of the mountain. And the sunrise colors were still in the sky.

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After running into Easy Company (a fellow norovirus companion) at a water source, the trail rollercoastered through forest and alpine meadows. I got views of Middle Sister, which were more hazy. I took lunch at noon by the Obsidian Falls, aptly named bc of all the obsidian rock nearby.

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After lunch there were some more steep climbs, and this time, mostly on feet grinding lava rock. I felt like I was moving backwards most of the time, and the sun was beating down, though the wind kept things cooler. My feet were killing me, and the lava rock just slows me down so much bc I’m being so careful with each step, not to misstep and twist an ankle.

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Later in the afternoon during my descent I took a break by the last on trail water source for a while, and filled up enough to get me to Big Lake Youth Camp, my next resupply point. I’ll be getting there sometime tomorrow, around lunchtime, and think I’ll stay the whole day.

Day 127: mile 1927.5 to mile 1957.2

8.20.18. 29.7 miles.

Today was relatively uneventful. I woke up this morning smelling smoke, so I guessed the winds changed over night and brought the smoke in.

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The day was mostly pretty easy, gradual terrain. I entered the Three Sisters Wilderness, I walked in the forest mostly, and there were beautiful lakes every so often. I lost count of how many I passed!

 These birds were trying to gang up on me at lunch

These birds were trying to gang up on me at lunch

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I didn’t see too many people today either. A hiker I’ve kind of been leapfrogging with since crater lake got shin splints yesterday. I chatted with him as he packed up his tent while I was filtering water and he was thinking about just getting to Elk Lake and trying to get to Bend so he could rest. I also had a very long conversation with a backcountry ranger who hiked the PCT in 2016. His name is Droplet. 

I had one big climb for the day, at the very end of my day. There were campsites up on a ridge with apparently very amazing views, however, there are none bc of all the smoke. After I set up my tent, sooo many NOBOs were walking through. By listening to some of their conversations, it seems like a lot of people got off at Elk Lake to get to Trail days and are now getting back on to resume their hikes, so maybe there will be some more hikers.

Day 126: Shelter Cove to mile 1927.5

8.19.18. 21.3 miles.

I slept in until 6 this morning since the resort didn’t start taking breakfast orders until 7. I was ready to go by 6:30, and walked back to the resort from our stealth spot. I used the very nice warm bathrooms and plugged my things in to charge. The WiFi was working better this morning since no one was up using it yet. At 7, I ordered a breakfast burrito and a latte, and they were both delicious. A couple hikers rolled in first thing. A NOBO and a SOBO. We sat and talked for a bit while I waited for Excel to come over & my things to finish charging. I organized my snacks for the day, brushed & flossed my teeth again, chatted a little more, and then finally left a little after 9.

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I didn’t make it far after getting back on the PCT when I noticed a beautiful view of Odell Lake, where the resort was located, from the ridge, and I also had cell signal, so I called my mom to coordinate some box stuff that I wasn’t able to do down at the resort bc the WiFi was so bad.

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I finally really got started hiking again a little before 11. My goals for the day were rapidly dwindling.

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I started the first big climb of the day and saw many day hikers and overnight backpackers, including this group of young girls with their dads, just coming back from an overnight trip. They all looked very happy and the dads were beaming. So cute & so nice to see. Once I got to Rosary Lakes, I could see why they were so happy. These lakes were gorgeous, and I was bummed I couldn’t stay the night there! I did take a water filtering break, and needed to carry a decent amount to the next source. I finished the climb, passing a few weekenders, and then ate lunch at the maiden shelter. It was nice and cool inside, and I talked with a section hiker who is out for the week. He is a ranger at silver falls state park, a place I’ve been in Oregon!

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After lunch, I descended some more, but then had another moderate climb. These climbs really haven’t been that bad bc they’ve been pretty gradual, and mostly in the trees. Around 6:45 I reach Charlton Lake, a very tempting place to camp, but instead I filtered water and moved on, opting to do a couple more miles and camp at the spot 2.5 miles from the lake. I got to camp right at 8, and quickly set up all my things, ate dinner, and went to bed.

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 sun setting in a burn zone

sun setting in a burn zone

​Day 125: mile 1892.5 to Shelter Cove Resort

8.18.18. 13.7 miles.

I slept sooo well last night, which was a departure from the previous nights. So well, that when my alarm went off, I was pretty disoriented. It took me a few minutes to get going and remember that I needed to get dressed. It was pretty cold this morning, I got ready with my rain jacket and puffy on, taking my puffy off before hiking. I hiked in my rain jacket the whole uphill, until I got to the top and was above tree line. This is pretty unusual since I generally get really hot on uphills and need to take my layers off ASAP.

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Once I got almost to the top, I had the most amazing view so far in Oregon. The morning light was beautiful, there was a large lake in the distance with the mountains above. And the smoke had settled in a layer above/ behind the mountains I was looking at. I was in awe. It was just so gorgeous! I stopped for a while to admire the scenery and the chirping birds. I’m definitely starting to “stop and smell the roses” a little bit more, even though I’m still walking long days. I can definitely sense that my time on trail is dwindling. It’s hard to believe that it will all be over in about a month. I will greatly miss the moments like I had this morning.

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I got to a creek at the top of my climb and filtered enough water to take me to Shelter Cove, and continued on. The morning was so peaceful, and it might sound counterintuitive, but in the moment I really needed to listen to some Simon & Garfunkel for mood music. The vibe was just there! Sometimes music can be a hinderance, a distraction to the miles, but this just felt like it was enhancing the scenery.

 Blazing though  

Blazing though  

I ended up listening to music the rest of the way to Shelter Cove. The higher alpine meadows eventually turned into forest, and I didn’t see very many hikers. I sang along to many of the songs, and got a little emotional with some of them. Sometimes you just hear a good song and it makes you think about your life and then you cry on trail and then a day hiker comes out of nowhere and sees you blowing snot rockets bc you made yourself get all congested by crying and also sees tears in your eyes and then they awkwardly comment about how the trail is pretty dusty. And you just weirdly agree but are still kinda crying. And then you laugh at yourself 2 minutes later, change the song, and awkwardly dance/hike to Shake It Off. The trail does weird things to you.

I reached the dirt road at Pengra Pass and found trail magic at the junction! I grabbed a 7Up and followed the road down to the highway to Shelter Cove. It was probably about a mile walk overall. It was very confusing getting there bc there were so many people and so many RVs. I realized it was a Saturday, but the amount of people seemed excessive. I finally found the hiker tent, and was VERY surprised at who I saw in there... Excel! From way back when! I hadn’t seen her since Kennedy Meadows South. We follow each other on social media, so we’ve been keeping tabs on each other, but the service hasn’t been super great since Ashland. We got to catch up, and I found out she had to skip a lot of trail in NorCal bc she kept having asthma attacks bc of all the smoke. An amazing trail angel basically housed her and drove her to parts of the trail for a week for her to see if she could hike in the smoke. Ultimately, the smoke was at the lowest at Crater Lake, where she got back on 5 days ago. She’s been hiking lower mileage days since she basically took 2 weeks off of hiking & she’s waiting for the rest of her group to catch up.

It was really nice to have someone I know well to talk to and hang out with for a change. Especially since the WiFi here sucked and there was no service, so we really got to hang out. It was lots of fun. Also, Pony Express (Rachel), who I met in Callahan’s with Twerk also showed up, which was mind-boggling to me since I though she was ahead of me! It was great seeing her again, and she hiked out a couple miles this evening, but I think I’ll run into her tomorrow. At least, I hope I will!

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I got all of my chores done: resupply box organized, laundry, (real) shower, charged all my things, ate some real food. The WiFi kind of started working again, but barely. Once the sun was starting to set, Excel and I went off to some land near the resort to set up camp. The PCT camp area the resort was charging $11 for was on terrible, lumpy, rocky ground, which we thought was ridiculous, and since Excel had been here last night, she knew a place we could camp for free nearby that was on public land. So we set up there. I’m getting breakfast at the restaurant tmrrw, so I won’t be waking up and leaving super early.

Day 124: mile 1861.8 to mile 1892.5

8.17.18. 30.7 miles.

I woke up before my alarm today, but not wanting to start getting ready, I sat on my phone until I was ready. It was actually kinda cold this morning! I put my rain jacket & puffy on while getting ready. Definitely didn’t want to leave my quilt. I was hiking at 6, despite my slower start, and hiked with my rain jacket on for around 45 min until I needed to take a potty break. The trail was all downhill this morning, so it was difficult to get warm. I was still chilled hiking without the jacket, but knew I’d get warm eventually, which did happen, as I started hiking slightly uphill.

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I had such a strange nostalgia feeling this morning. I think it was the combination of the crisp air, and the smell of the forest: almost like it had rained. It smelled like fresh, moist soil. I was immediately brought back to walking around the UW campus: one of my favorite activities, especially after a rain. It just smelled like the PNW so much and I felt so at home. The forest was so gorgeous this morning too. I love trees! There was also a super weird warm, humid spot amongst the trees this morning and that spot smelled like the minute you walk off the airplane in Hawaii: warm, fresh, almost flowery smelling air. I loved it.

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I took a short water filtering & snack break, and then continued downhill to Windigo Pass, a dirt road with a very large water cache, and also the connection point for the Oregon Skyline Trail alternate, which is a more direct path to Shelter Cove, and apparently the “old PCT”. I didn’t really know about it, or have maps to be confident in the route, so I decided to stick to the main PCT, even though the OST had more water sources. I took my lunch here, and was accosted by bees and very aggressive chipmunks for most of my time. Again, a not very enjoyable lunch break. They are so hard to find!

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The climb after lunch sucked. It finally got warm, and some of the climb was in the sun, and I had mostly walked downhill today, so it was just not an enjoyable hike up. When I was almost to the top I noticed I had cell service, and I was beat, so I sat down and took a break in the shade. After 30 min, I felt much better, and was able to finish the climb quickly. The views were wonderful!

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The rest of the afternoon was a very long descent to Summit Lake, a huge, beautiful lake that has a car camping campground. This lake was so, so pretty, but I needed to do a few more miles today, so I pushed on a few more uphill to a campsite near a large pond. It’s very peaceful here, and I’m the only one here tonight so far. Tomorrow I’ll be hiking into Shelter Cove to pick up my next resupply, and I think I’ll be staying the night there, since I have a decent amount of chores to do: charging, laundry, and shower. Plus, I hear the food is awesome!

Day 123: Lightning Spring to mile 1861.8

8.16.18. 22.6 PCT miles. 6.9 Alt. miles.

Today was a long day! I woke up and got ready at 4:30 and was hiking by 5:15. I had 0.8 miles to walk from the spring back to the rim trail to pick up from where I got off yesterday. The rest of the steep parts weren’t too bad and I probably could have hiked more yesterday, but I’m happy with my decision. Mainly bc I got to see a much less smoky Crater Lake at sunrise! It was gorgeous.

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The rest of the alpine meadows in the National Park on the rim trail were so pretty too! After finishing up the last 2.5 miles actually with a lake view, it was back to the forest to rejoin the PCT. I ran into tons of southbounders who confirmed the water cache was stocked, so I dumped a ton of water I’d been carrying. My back/ hips were hurting with all of the water weight and with essentially having a full resupply. Felt like the desert again!

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I ran into Jam and her husband and friend, who I met back in Seiad Valley, and hiked with Jam for a bit before getting to the highway. When I got there, a man was doing trail magic! It was very unexpected and I grabbed an orange soda before heading back down the trail to the water cache. I was able to get enough to get me to the next creek, 8.5 miles away. I wanted to eat lunch at the cache but the bees were absolutely insane and were swarming everywhere. I walked a little ways down the trail to eat lunch in more peace, though the flies and ants didn’t let me rest too much.

 thanks Magic Man!

thanks Magic Man!

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So I packed up and started up the long climb to the creek. It was mostly forest until awesome views of Mt. Thielsen came into view! Such a cool mountain. I filled up water at the creek. There’s another super dry stretch and I’m carrying enough to take me to the cache at Windigo Pass, 22 miles from the creek. The afternoon was more uphill, but more gradual than earlier. I hit the Oregon/ Washington high point, which was a little underwhelming compared to Forester Pass. I had considered hiking further, but the ridge where I’m camped had awesome views, and cell service, so I couldn’t ask for more! I’m going to sleep in a little tomorrow, probably until 5, my more “normal” wake up time, unless I’m ready to go before then.

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Day 122: mile 1805.8 to Mazama Village to Crater Lake Rim Trail Alternate to Lightning Spring

8.15.18. 17.2 PCT miles, 4.6 Alt. miles

Again this morning, I woke up right with my alarm, and got ready fairly quickly. I laid down for a little after getting dressed to re-look over the maps and elevation profile for the day, and read a little again about the services at Crater Lake. There’s a lot going on there.

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I was hiking by 5:30, again by headlamp for the first 30 min, until I took my potty break. The majority of the early morning was through a recent burn area. It was eerie, but also really cool to see. In one section, there was a ton of new growth, in another, just burned, black trees. It was also super overcast this morning, and the sunrise was really soft through the clouds. I ran into Generic and Downdog at the next campsite. They were just getting out of their tents. 

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The 15 miles definitely dragged on. The burned forest got old after a while, but eventually, I entered into the park boundary, and soon after that, there were more green trees and some grassy meadows. At 11:30ish I reached the road! There were SO many SOBOs going back to the trail.

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I finally got to Mazama Village around 12, and went right to the store to get my resupply package and organize everything. I read on guthooks about cell service and free hot rinse showers in one of the campground loops, so I went off in search of that. I found it, overlooking a canyon, and talked to my mom, Dad, and Pammy on the phone, and did a little social media scrolling. The showers were harder to find, but I eventually found them with the help of a concessionaire employee, in the second bathroom building. Even though I had no soap, and I wasn’t doing laundry, the hot shower felt sooo nice and I also got to rinse out one pair of my socks and buff. The socks were so dirty, it was pretty gross.

 Really hope these are real

Really hope these are real

After my rinse off, I walked back to the store area to get lunch at the restaurant and charge my things in the outlets there. Originally I was planning on hiking out 11 miles on the rim alternate (the official PCT doesn’t actually go to the rim of the lake, so most hikers hike the rim trail alternate. Also, the official PCT thru the park is closed right now bc of fires from last year), but it was looking like I wasn’t going to make it that far, since I didn’t leave for the trail until 3:45.

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I had to take a super steep side trail back to the PCT which was pretty sucky. But the trail to the rim alternate was downhill and nice. However, the rim alternate trail to the rim was also pretty steep, and 2.4 miles through forest, so it wasn’t the most fun. Despite all the steep climbing, I was feeling pretty good going into the Rim Village. Everything changed here though. There’s no water from the store to PCT mile 1856.1, which is roughly 26 miles, including the rim miles. There may be a cache at a dirt road, but no one has given water updates for almost 10 days, so I don’t know how much I can rely on it. So, I loaded up a little under 5 L.

 On the side trail to Lightning Spring  

On the side trail to Lightning Spring  

And guess what? The Rim Trail is sucky. It is SUPER steep in many sections, both up and downhill, and carrying 3 days of food + over 10 lbs of water was not making my body happy. Also, the lake was very smoked in. So, I thought in the Rim Village I’d push to the 11 mi Rim Trail camp, but after suffering on the rim, I dumped out water & altered my plan to go off the rim trail to camp near a spring with water. The water carry is still going to be terrible (24 miles), and the rim trail is still going to be steep for a couple miles, but I’ll be able to tackle it in the morning when I’m more fresh. And, hopefully the smoke will clear out, and I’ll be able to see a beautiful sunrise. Fingers crossed!

Day 121: mile 1776.3 to mile 1805.8

8.14.18. 29.5 miles.

The day of blow-downs!

I woke up right when my alarm also went off. It’s so hard getting ready in the dark, and to make it easier on me, I’ve put my headlamp right next to my face so I turn it on right away before I can close my eyes again. I always feel bad when I’m around other people who aren’t awake yet. Getting ready isn’t the quietest ordeal, though I try hard to be as quiet as possible.

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The morning was really nice, easy hiking. I still had a bit more of the climb left, but I finished it as the sun rose, then it was all downhill/ flat until the first water source for me, a spring 8.5 miles from camp. I made great time, and got to chat with some new NOBO hikers. It seems like I caught the small “bubble” of this section.

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The rest of the morning was fine, but lots of blow-downs (where trees have fallen and blocked the trail) that required big steps, shimmying over, or going around. Some places had so many blown downs in a row that the detour also had blow downs and it was disorienting getting back to the trail. There was also some moderately steep uphills before the next water source, where I wanted to eat lunch. Snow lakes were 0.2 off trail, and didn’t have much shade, and the water tasted kinda weird after filtering, but it was fine. I stayed for a little bit, accidentally scaring hikers who came down for water bc I was sort of hidden by some trees.

The biggest climb of the day was right after lunch, in a burn area that was pretty steep, exposed, and super rocky. I was not expecting the rockiness after walking on such nice dirt trail, and it hurt my feet and slowed me down. Once I got off the rocks, and done with the climb, I felt much better, and strolled to my last good on-trail water until Crater Lake. Here, I ran into Downdog, who I met in Etna, and Generic, who I met way back in the desert, and who I didn’t realize I knew literally until today, bc I remembered his face but couldn’t put a name to it. He remembered me too, and we reminisced a little about the desert, and I gave him updates about people we were hiking around at the time: Excel, DHS, Dead Zone, LOL, Hot Mess, Butters, Hot Pants, Queso, and more. He was grateful for the run-down and a reminder of people’s trail names.

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The next 6 miles to camp seemed to take forever. I kept thinking I was further along than reality. The trail had more blowdowns, and some nice dirt, but also had lots of rocks in some places, which really slows me down. Hard to get in a groove with rocks everywhere. After a moderate incline, I finally got to camp in a huge, flat open area. A nice British couple who I had leapfrogged with today was there, and I got to chat with them for a bit before we retired to our tents. Crater Lake tomorrow, and I’m super excited!

 Wow! 

Wow!